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Posted: June 03, 2013

Colorado Companies to Watch 2013

Five years strong, Colorado Companies to Watch continues to enhance the state’s economy

Lisa Ryckman

Maybe you know them, and maybe you don’t. But if you don’t – you definitely should.

In the last five years, Colorado Companies to Watch has showcased 250 of the state’s business movers and shakers, the up-and-comers, the growers, the builders, the job-creators. From the program’s inception in 2009 through today, these best and brightest second-stage companies have fanned the flames of Colorado’s economic fire in every industry and every corner of the state.

“Colorado Companies to Watch represents a unique partnership between government, private sector and communities to recognize and support the game-changers in Colorado,” says Ken Lund, executive director of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), which picks the winners with judges from both the public and private sectors.

“These second-stage businesses – with more than $410 million in total annual revenue last year – continue to create jobs and grow the state’s economy and are vital to the state’s continued growth,” Lund says.

It’s easy to see. From 2009 through 2012, this year’s 50 winners alone generated $1.1 billion in revenue and added 815 employees, reflecting a 149 percent increase in revenue and 135 percent increase in jobs for the four-year period. That translates into a 36 percent annual revenue growth and 33 percent annual growth in employees.

And there’s no stopping them. If projections for 2013 hold, this year’s class will have generated $1.7 billion in revenue and added 1,275 employees over the last five years – a 279 percent increase in revenue and 212 percent increase in jobs.

Colorado’s first class of winners stepped out in June 2009, a time when the economy was suffocating under a crippling recession. 

“Right when we needed good news stories more than ever, we had them – 50 amazing successes to talk about when bad news was dominating the media,” says founding Program Director Stephanie Steffens.

The Companies to Watch program was developed by the Edward Lowe Foundation, which was started by the late Edward Lowe, creator of Kitty Litter, and his wife, Darlene, to promote entrepreneurship.

To be considered, companies must be Colorado-based, privately held, employ six to 99 full-time equivalent employees and have $750,000 to $50 million in sales or a similar range of working capital. And perhaps most importantly, they must be more than surviving, but thriving.

This year’s winners’ circle includes Adaptive Innovations Corp., a Lakewood engineering firm specializing in custom machine automation, robotics and test equipment that has quadrupled its work force and seen an eightfold increase in revenue in the last five years, including a nearly 300 percent revenue increase in 2012 alone. Another 2013 winner, MM Local, has increased revenue by nearly 3,000 percent since 2009 and expects another 30 percent growth this year through produce-preserving partnerships with local family farmers.

But it’s not all about the bottom line. Company culture and community impact count, too.

One World Labs, a Denver-based team of IT security experts, belongs to Hackers for Charity, which solves technology challenges for various nonprofits and provides food, equipment, job training and computer education to people in poverty.

Cycla LLC, a family-run professional thrift recycling company in Federal Heights, provided the seed money in 2011 to start Recycle That LLC, which partners with nonprofits to help them raise funds through textile recycling. Combined efforts of both companies nationwide has diverted more than 230 million pounds of textile waste from landfills nationwide.

On the following pages, you’ll find profiles of a star from each Colorado Companies to Watch class of the past, plus snapshots of the 50 stellar winners from 2013.

“These companies are the change agents in Colorado,” says Sam Bailey, OEDIT’s current Colorado Companies to Watch program director. “When I look at what has been built over the past five years, Colorado truly shows how government, local communities and businesses can come together in an amazing way.”

2013 Colorado Companies to Watch

Economic Impact of 50 Second-Stage Companies

$410 million in total annual revenue in 2012

51.9 percent increase in total annual revenue compared with the previous year

1,417 full-time equivalent employees in 2012

1,255 in Colorado

162 out of state

460 net new jobs projected for 2013

364 in Colorado

96 out of state

2013 Colorado Companies to Watch Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony
Presented by CapitalValue Advisors
Friday, June 28
5 p.m. Registration and Welcome Reception
6:30 p.m. Dinner and Awards

Denver Marriott City Center; 1701 California St.
Cocktail attire

Individual tickets: $135 • Corporate table of 10: $1,200

Register Today
www.colorado.companiestowatch.org
The Marriott is offering a special room rate (see link in event registration on website)

Lisa Ryckman is the Associate Editor/Online at ColoradoBiz. Contact her at lryckman@cobizmag.com.

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